Why is it so damn hard to find a nice convenient place to store my files online? Since the loss of my photos I figure the logical thing to do from now on is just keep my whole iPhoto library in a folder which is sync’ed to online storage. So I investigated a few of the main players and made some notes…
- Apple iCloud
- Given that it’s iPhoto I want to back up, you’d think this would be in the running, but:
- Offers no generally useful storage options (ie no folder sync)
- Deletes items in your photo stream after 30 days.
- Confusing as hell app-centric document storage, eg from Preview.app you can save a PDF “to the cloud”, but good luck finding that sucker in any other application or OS.
- Google Drive
- Flaky client that constantly fails while syncing and doesn’t resume until you quit and restart.
- Hogs network while syncing.
- Arbitrary undocumented limitations on individual file size and who-knows-what else.
- Tried to add my iPhoto library (~ 1GB) and the thing just keeps choking without giving me any useful error info.
- Amazon Cloud Drive
- Should be great, since most other companies use Amazon storage for their back-end anyway, but…
- I wouldn’t know, because the client requires Java to run, and that’s just bullshit. It’s file syncing, not computer science from the late 90s for chrissakes. Even the summer intern who wrote Google’s Drive client on a Friday afternoon didn’t need to resort to Java.
- Everything Amazon touches is just ugly. I think Jeff Bezos is secretly their chief graphic designer, and that before being CEO of Amazon he designed the crawler graphics for television shopping channels.
- Ok, I tried it anyway, and it got stuck just like Google Drive, and then when I quit it, emptied the folder on both client and server side, and then restarted, it got stuck trying to sync an empty folder with an empty folder. Brilliant.
- Microsoft Skydrive
- Hey wait a sec… this one might not actually suck!
- 7GB free!
- Tidy OS X install…
- Oh wait, it’s hung already, with only 7 files of about 8,000 uploaded.
- I give up.
- Ok, it actually works, but…
- Piddling 2GB free plan.
- Upgraded plans cost more per GB than everyone else’s.
- When someone shares a large dropbox file with you it takes up space in your account, even though they’re already paying for the storage.
- Dropbox had a major security SNAFU a while back which demonstrated that their encryption was a total joke, and that alone should have killed the company.
So, Dropbox it is, because it’s the only one that even did what I needed it to do in the end. But honestly, how hard can it be to write a native client that synchronises files between local and online storage? It’s just the storing of bytes; no parsing or conversion required. Too hard for Google, Amazon and Microsoft, apparently. Microsoft and Amazon can’t even get their folder icons to properly match the appearance of OS X ones.
On Saturday the older of my two iMacs started beach-balling for 15 seconds at a time every minute or so, making it impossible to use. Many restarts and disk scans later (that goddamn startup “chooooo!” haunts my dreams) it looked like the internal hard drive was crapping out, and since all my important files are stored externally or online I figured I might as well wipe the drive and try a reinstall.
Although the 2009 model iMac doesn’t seem to have firmware level recovery support, I had an external OS X HD which let me boot off it and run disk tools etc. So after a bit of doinking around I had a fresh OS X install on a newly empty drive.
And of course it was then I remembered that all my files were backed up elsewhere… except for my photos. I had been storing them in iPhoto, on the drive I just nuked. I had a Time Machine backup of the drive at some point, but in the hardware shuffle when I got the new iMac I think I recycled that drive too. Because I was expecting to ultimately transfer everything to the new machine I’ve been treating the old one as secondary… But, largely because I’ve been using the new one exclusively for Windows development, I never got around to transferring my photo library.
This is why you should never make the decision to format your hard drive at 2AM.
So, unless I discover a backup disk I’d previously forgotten about, I realised the only photos that would survive would be those in my iCloud photo stream. I set up photo stream sync on the fresh iPhoto install, thinking that 1000 photos were better than none.
And iPhoto downloaded about 60, and that was it. Turns out iCloud only keeps your last 30 days of photos. Maximum 1000 photos, maximum 30 days.
Seriously iCloud, fuck you.
But before I totally despair, I look on my iPhone I see that my stream has 1000 photos in it. How can that be? Well I guess it’s something to do with the confusing way that photo stream is implemented, and although the older photos get discarded from online storage, any that were synced with the device stay cached locally (but then why the 1000 limit? Again, fuck you, iCloud). Checking my iPad I note it only has about half the photos that are on my iPhone, even though I’ve had the iPad for longer. At this point this is just another WTF in the grand scheme of Apple’s horrendously awful online services.
Ok, so now I just gotta save those photos from my iPhone since it’s the only place they exist right now. Here’s the convenient several-hundred-click method to do that:
- Open your photo stream on your iOS device
- Click Edit button.
- Individually select every single goddamn photo you want to keep, because there ain’t no “Select All”. Get tappin’!
- Save to new album
- Photos will now be visible/downloadable in iPhoto when you connect your device.
iCloud is all, like “keep your docs in the cloud, it’s great!” and yet the only document type I could really use their cloud for, photos, gets fucking deleted after 30 days. I don’t use iCloud to store anything else because Apple went with this moronic app-centric storage model (instead of doc-centric) which makes it virtually useless for general storage.
It’s official: contracts are done, deposit paid and now we enter a 7 week settlement period, so basically we should be moved in by the end of June. (although suddenly that seems an annoyingly long time to wait).
A couple of key features:
Ocean views! You can actually see the ocean from the living area in the house, which I was surprised by. Also my better half will get to see it every morning as she embarks on her annoying commute :)
A Pool! Though since it will be the middle of winter when we move in we probably won’t be getting a lot of use out of that for a while.
A usable area under the house for BBQs! I will host a goddamn BBQ this year if it kills me!
A spa bath! (with bonus weird blue marble effect bathroom)
It will also be the first time I live in a house with a dishwasher, which will be AWESOME. I’m so used to not having one that I actually referred to it as a “dishwashing machine” earlier today. In all honesty it’s probably the thing I’m most looking forward to right now.
I would show more pics but I’d just be reusing shots from the agent’s listing and Google Image Search is a little too clever these days– I don’t really want to share that many details publicly about exactly where we’re going to live and how much we paid. I’m not about to claim we got the best price, and prefer not to hear advice from people who would have “beaten them down”, because really there is almost nothing more annoying at times like these.
I see now why people describe buying a house as stressful, because it bloody well is. But now that we are actually locked in a sense of calm has settled in and it’s so damn nice to be past the point of second-guessing everything. We’re buying this house to live in, not to flip, and we really like it.
And of course now I want to write a floor plan app because the one I’ve been using (FloorPlanner) is just too prone to screw-ups (and it’s written in Flash… blech). I first tried it several years ago and it’s no better now than it was then. If you know of a good free or cheap alternative let me know, but after trying a few this seems about as good as it gets.
Also really fighting the urge to run out and buy a tonne of power tools, garden implements and furniture that I really don’t have the cash or storage space for right now.
Well this is probably the longest I’ve gone without posting– my poor blog has seen better times.
I’ve been quite busy lately, with work and also with the whole home-buying endeavour. We are so close, with almost everything sorted, but now we’re looking at all the stuff that got noted on the building report we just got back and scrambling to work out just what the “normal” level of money-pitty-ness is when buying a house. Oh and BTW there were termites at some stage! But everyone is saying that’s pretty normal and as long as they were dealt with properly it’s probably fine. Probably. Wheeeee! Basically this whole area is like a giant termite mound so what can we expect?
Been a while since I had this awful panic feeling deep in my gut, and not liking it at all. But maybe this is all normal, and we are just overreacting. Haha silly us.
I would really like a building report to have one page and look something like this:
☐ Buy house.
☐ Do not buy house.
I would also really like it if the law here was that the vendor must provide an accredited report, rather than having to pay for one ourselves and discover these things just as we’re about to get locked in to a mortgage.
When I go to the property tomorrow to discuss our concerns it will only be the second time I have entered the premises. I spend more hands-on time shopping for a TV or an iPad than we have with this house. It seems crazy that this is how things are done.
Recently I decided it was time for a computer upgrade, largely because I’m doing some Windows development and my 3 year old iMac, although still quite good, doesn’t quite have the 3D graphics chops to support the sort of work I’m doing. So I considered getting a windows box… for about 3 seconds, before caving and buying the latest & greatest 27″ iMac instead.
It’s rather schmick. Skinny, fast, quiet and yet it runs surprisingly cool. How they managed to properly ventilate this thing when it’s practically a slab of aluminium I do not know. For now I’m running it mostly in Windows/Bootcamp, with what appears to be full driver support for the NVidia GTX-680MX chipset, and doing all Mac related stuff on my older machine (to the right, see it’s like an inch thicker). Ultimately I’ll probably sell the old one as I don’t really need 2 machines, but for now it’s handy.
I also got a new desk to accomodate, since my old one was small and also remarkably weak; beginning to slump with the two machines sitting on it. Because it was a bit of a rush decision I grabbed the first reasonably sturdy (+cheap) one I could find, with a solid MDF top coated in white polyurethane (the only finish available). Apart from strength, the other appeal of this desk is that it’s actually a folding table, with no assembly required.
If you’re thinking about getting such a desk (or for that matter a glass one) consider first the issue of how well your mouse will work on such a glossy surface. I now have two Apple “magic” mice, seemingly identical (both model A1296), and yet only one can track accurately on this surface– the other doesn’t register movement at all. A Logitech optical mouse also totally failed to track. Basically you should make sure your mouse works when used on a whiteboard before choosing such a desk.
BTW, one of the improvements touted for the new iMacs is a less reflective screen, and I’m pleased to note that the difference is non-trivial (in this photo new iMac is on the right).
A recent flare-up of my ulcerative colitis has refused to subside, and so I’ve decided to try something I only recently ruled out. Studies have shown that nicotine tends to reduce symptoms and aid in the remission of the disease, and so after much consideration I’ve decided that rather than upping my dosage of my usual medication (azathioprine) I’m going to try augmenting my treatment with nicotine patches. As an ex-smoker this is tricky since it means reintroducing a drug into my system that I’ve been trying for years to reduce my dependency on, but at this point I think the potential benefits may be worth it.
Both UC and azathioprine have the common side-effect of fatigue– which may go some way towards explaining why I’ve been feeling so crushingly tired so much of the time. Sleep is my favorite pastime right now. And so the idea of upping the dose doesn’t really appeal, even if it weren’t for the other risk factors that azathioprine brings (like massively increased risk of UV induced skin cancer which is something you don’t want when you live in Australia).
As I am of the large percentage of UC sufferers who developed the condition after I first quit smoking, it seems like a good bet that there may be some benefit to getting nicotine back into my system. Much as I’d like to simply take up the old habit once again, a more sensible (if less satisfying) option is to administer the drug via transdermal patches. I’m starting on 10.5mg per day and plan to maintain this for 2 weeks before reviewing progress.
My experience so far (24 hours after commencement):
- Some initial light headedness and nausea. To be expected, and nothing too bothersome.
- Enhanced alertness. This was my other reason for choosing this path. I am hoping the nicotine will help counteract my general fatigue, as my work requires some ability to concentrate.
- Really really vivid dreams, bordering on lucid, which is incredibly rare for me. When I woke this morning it was after noting that I was stuck in a dream (observing that writing on signs would change every time I looked away) and so I simply walked away from the situation I was in. There was a disconcerting Vanilla Sky moment where it looked like I might have to jump off a rooftop to end the dream, but fortunately I managed to wake before this was necessary. I was quite relieved to find that I was in fact still safe in bed and not teetering on top of a bookcase.
Like a lot of people (I imagine) I currently have two gmail accounts, one personal, and one for work (through Google Apps). But much to my extreme frustration there seems to be no way of merging them into a combined view so I don’t have to jump between browser tabs. The closest I came was to have my personal gmail check my work gmail as though it were just another external POP account. Which really is a terrible solution, as a) it only checks POP accounts once an hour, b) it means I am actually ending up with the same messages in 2 places, and c) if I reply to a work email from my personal account the recipient gets mail headers along the lines of “sent by firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of email@example.com”. YUCK.
And so I find myself using Apple’s desktop Mail.app for the first time. And I really don’t like it (in fact I don’t even like the idea of desktop mail clients anymore). But at least it lets me combine multiple accounts (using IMAP instead of POP!) and view them in a unified inbox. Unfortunately, even though it’s IMAP based it’s still too thick to offer me the same convenience for my Sent folder, instead only showing items that have been sent via the desktop mail client itself.
As well as in Gmail, support for multiple account view would be great in Google’s calendar, contacts etc. It’s dumb that pretty much ALL my data is stored by Google and yet only third party clients can let me view these accounts simultaneously.
UPDATE: I tried setting up Outlook 2011 for Mac to see if it was better than Apple Mail. I got as far as getting frustrated with an account that looked like it was working and yet downloading zero messages, as well as the realization that built-in support for CalDAV and CardDAV seems to be missing (or incredibly well hidden), so screw that.
A blessing and a curse.
It’s been a few years now since I worked in an office environment, and although there’s a lot I don’t miss, there are some things I do. Daily social interaction with workmates is a handy way to make sure you aren’t going a bit mad. When you get stuck on a problem and swear loudly enough someone will eventually pop their head in and give you a chance to explain it to them, at which point you might suddenly figure out what’s wrong, or at the very least garner some sympathy.
When you work from home, you get total control of your workspace, and that’s great. Except that you might start getting obsessive over unimportant details like where to put your desk, how many whiteboards is too many, how best to arrange your network hardware*, whether you work better with music and which music to choose, ambient light levels, optimal selection of pens, etc.
Also you get to set your own hours. Awesome. Although what this really means for me is that I work in fits and starts at weird hours, often in the wee small hours, because I am not good at delaying the gratification of being able to use the daylight hours for something other than staring at a computer screen.
Overall I still like it a lot more than not, but I just wish I could be a little more disciplined with my schedule.
* Answer: Pile it onto a high shelf and just try to ignore it.
A nice reality-check for anyone tempted to excuse sexual harassment or assault on the grounds of situational complexity, cultural misunderstandings, natural urges, difficulty in parsing non-verbal cues, victim’s choice of clothing etc… What if a person applied the same lack of judgement and consideration in other areas of everyday life? The following are excerpted from: If Consent Was Really That Hard, Whiny Dudes Would Fail At Every Aspect of Life:
- First of all, they’d all be in jail anyway for repeated trespassing. This would happen after they tried to get jobs by walking into workplaces uninvited, putting themselves at a workstation, and demanding a paycheck. They would, of course, be told that they’re trespassing by the bewildered people in the workplace, and they’d reply, “But I work here. I have this job.” And when they were told that no, they have to apply first and be hired, they’d throw a temper tantrum and refuse to leave, saying, “You advertised a job opening! The job is clearly mine!” until the cops came by and cuffed them and threw them back into jail. Rinse, repeat, because making sure you’re hired before you get a job is HAAAAARRRRD.
- Driving a car, of course, would be completely unmanageable. They’d always be getting into car wrecks every time they drove more than a block, because right-of-way would make no sense to them. Imagine trying to merge into traffic if you can’t handle the process of “reading” another car’s “body language” to see if it’s letting you into traffic. Because this doesn’t happen to them, we can safely assume they can read car body language, so their claims to be unable to read women’s body language are simply put, lies.
- Not to mention the routine damage to their bodies from constant animal attacks, because they don’t understand how to tell a friendly animal who wants petting from a snarling animal that will bite. But, in reality, they can understand animal body language, even as they claim to be unable to understand their fellow human beings who they can converse with in a spoken language.
A pic from the front of my house at sunset as it was starting to rain again. Mmmmmm…. atmos.
If you were a kid watching TV in Australia around 1980, you probably remember this psychedelic animated music video they used to play all the time on the ABC (public TV station).
Some people were more traumatized by it than I was.
How worried all these poor rich jerks look! Obama’s gonna slightly increase their crushing tax burdens! Original article here.
A quick reality check, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:
- Fewer than 2.4% of all U.S. households have a combined income of more than $250,000.
- Fewer than 1% of single moms earn more than $200,000.
- Fewer than 2.5% of retirement aged households earn more than $180,000.
- Fewer than 0.5% of single women (living alone) earn more than $200,000 (which is both interesting and sad).
- $650,000 is so high and represents such a tiny percentage of the population that they don’t even put it in their spreadsheets, usually topping out around the 200-250 range.